What is it?

For more information, you can consult the Psychotherapy sheet. You will find an overview of the multiple psychotherapeutic approaches - including a guide table to help you choose the most appropriate ones - as well as a presentation on the factors for successful therapy.

Abandon corporel

Among the many psychotherapeutic approaches described on the HealthPass.net site, this is probably the most marginal. It can also be said to be the most paradoxical, since it does not even claim to cure. Rather than a technique, bodily abandonment is a way of looking at life that is shared by a number of people active in psychotherapeutic practice. With a Quebecer named Aimé Hamann as leader, these people are engaged in a collective movement of reflection and research, both personal and professional.

"Body abandonment is like an upside down meditation: it consists of lying on your back, eyes closed, and doing nothing. It consists of lying on one's back, eyes closed, and doing nothing. Neither scratching, nor moving the arm which tires, nothing, no voluntary movement. The helper, the companion, the therapist sits down and places both hands on each side of the head. This is the "touch-presence". Then, both of them let life come, let the body manifest what it wants, what it is. "(Taken from the text La plongée de l'abandon corporel, see Articles of Interest).

During the 1970s, the perception of the body moved resolutely from mechanistic to holistic and new psychotherapies abounded. The psychologist Aimé Hamann (also trained in philosophy and theology) then began, with colleagues, to explore the use of touch in therapy in a non-interventionist spirit. The therapists observe that many subjects, once in a state of "being welcomed", literally abandon themselves, to the point of having involuntary and spontaneous physiological manifestations (gestures, movements, sounds, crying).

To explain this phenomenon, they hypothesized that the organization of life manifested by the body, and specific to each one, would constantly seek to express itself. But it would be retained by another organization, that of our socialized and functional behaviors. This organization of life would carry in its very structure the hundreds of thousands of years of its evolution since the primitive beings that were our distant ancestors.

According to the theory, the more an individual would deny the organization of his inner world, the more he would be confronted with the difficult, painful and frustrating aspects of human existence. He would thus be subject to all kinds of problems, including emotional difficulties and chronic diseases. From this perspective, no intervention and no plan for change makes sense. There is no model to which we should correspond. The idea, the only one, is to welcome life as it is organized in itself. Even what we don't like or don't want. "Receiving oneself, in this and only in this, is change. »1

According to the theory always, to welcome an emotion or a fear does not mean to free oneself from it, because our psychic structure is what it is. But the fact of allowing and recognizing emotions changes the relationship we have with ourselves and with others. What blocks relationships is closure. It is said that the state of acceptance favors the manifestation of our inner movement: physical movements, images, thoughts, sensations, etc. But body abandonment sessions can be frustrating because sometimes, or often, it is as if nothing is happening. But nothing ever happens," says Hamann2. You have to take the time; it's an endless process.

Demanding for the therapist

Today, practitioners of physical abandonment work with touch and speech, but the essential thing is neither touch nor speech, it is presence. The only way a therapist can foster this relationship with the client is to be able to receive himself. The more a therapist makes room for his or her own life, the more he or she allows the person who is there to be who he or she is.

But beware: it is not a question of "unconditional acceptance" of the other. According to practitioners, this is impossible. We can just accept the other as he or she is, while at the same time accepting our inescapable subjectivity towards him or her.

For this kind of work, the therapist must certainly be competent, but in addition, he or she must have made an important journey in the acceptance of self and constantly pursue this work. His project, very demanding, does not consist in healing (others or himself), but in becoming with others.


Why classify this approach as psychotherapy when it is more like a philosophy or even a form of spirituality? Because this approach is not only cognitive, like philosophy, but resolutely experiential. And that it does not aim at the beyond, like spirituality (although its acceptance of "what is" gives it a kinship with spiritualities, especially oriental ones). And because it is in psychotherapy that bodily abandonment finds its place of application par excellence. In the words of Aimé Hamann, it is "a movement of research on the meaning of life that uses psychotherapy as a tool".3

Therapeutic applications of body abandonment

Body abandonment is not indicated for people who want to quickly deal with what they see as a "problem", or who are looking for a recipe for happiness. On the other hand, those who see therapy as a search for meaning or as a way to explore existential questions will find it a favourable context. Some body abandonment psychotherapists do report being able to work with clients with complex and difficult issues.

Physical Abandonment

Therapeutic Applications Section

Research, writing and scientific review: Claudine Blanchet, PhD, Chair in Integrated Healthcare Approach, Université Laval.

(December 2010)

Body abandonment in practice

Body abandonment is practiced both in groups and individually. Group meetings, periodic or intensive, can take various forms: evenings or days combining bodywork, verbal exchanges, reflection or discussion on certain themes. As with other types of group therapy, body abandonment sessions encourage participants to express themselves in ways that affect others, giving them access to personal elements that are often unsuspected.

On the official website, you will find about fifty practitioners in Quebec, France and Switzerland. There are others that are not listed there.

Training in body abandonment

There is no formally organized vocational training in Quebec. Those interested in this practice must first familiarize themselves with it, as clients.

Even after several years of practice, body abandonment therapists continue to meet regularly with each other to reflect and exchange on their approach.

In France, a 4-year training course is offered by the Institut de Formation à la Psychothérapie en Abandon Corporel. See Sites of interest.

Body Abandonment - Books, etc.

Hamann Aimé, with the collaboration of Deshaies Gilles, Dubé Clémence, Pelletier Roch, Richard Fernande and Rioux Gilles. L'abandon corporel, au risque d'être soi, Éditions Alain Stanké, Canada, 1993.

Hamann Aimé. Beyond psychotherapies : L'abandon corporel, Éditions Alain Stanké, Canada, 1996.

These two books are, like the approach they describe, of great depth. The sometimes academic tone makes their reading demanding.

Maugin Marcelle. Être psychothérapeute autrement, L'Harmattan, France, 2009.

The author examines the place of the psychotherapist in contemporary society and discusses, among other things, bodily abandonment.

Body abandonment - Sites of interest

Body abandonment - the risk of being

The official website of the approach, including reflections by the main facilitator, Aimé Hamann, and texts by various therapists, as well as a directory of practitioners in Quebec, France and Switzerland (and a few websites in the directory).


Training Institute for Body Abandonment Psychotherapy

The Institute located in France offers a 4-year training course.


Share To:

Post A Comment:

0 comments so far,add yours